Young Playwrights' Theater inspires young people to realize the power of their own voices.

Quanisha Mitchell

Promising Playwright, January 2015

“It was just fluid, it flowed with me. It just came in my head and I wrote it down.”

One of the most profound impacts of the artistic process is its ability to promote empathy. Diving into the mind of a character to unearth his or her unique motivations and circumstances teaches the artist about the shared qualities of human life. Quanisha Mitchell, a Junior at Woodrow Wilson High School, feels that empathy deeply.

“Javon has a dream of having a home, having somebody to love him, and I think everybody deserves that,” she says about the protagonist of her play, Javon’s Dream.

Javon’s Dream, which Quanisha wrote in our In-School Playwriting Program in 2013, tells the story of a homeless teenager living on the streets of Atlanta and the romance that helps him get back on his feet. “I realized a lot of teens nowadays are homeless," she says, "especially [in Atlanta]. I’ve also looked up the research on the rates of homeless teenagers in Georgia and it’s at a real high rate."  

When given the chance to write a play, Quanisha decided to explore this topic, and set out to imagine what life might be like for a homeless teen. “Thinking why was he homeless, what happened throughout those years, how he’s become homeless,” challenged Quanisha to immerse herself completely in Javon's life. The result is a play that is both laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreakingly poignant, that captures the experience of homelessness within a moving and satisfying narrative.

Struck by Javon's Dream's gentle humor, Quanisha’s Teaching Artist nominated it for the 2014 New Play Festival. The play was selected as a Finalist and will be performed by professional actors at New Writers Now! #nofilter in February. “I was so excited," says Quanisha. "I’m still excited. I really didn’t think it was going to get that far.”

As for Quanisha, she too has a dream: to move to Atlanta or North Carolina, to study dance or learn to style hair. “I’ve been thinking of writing a book,” she adds, “a nonfiction book [about] ... the things in the real world, like society itself.” Judging from the insight and care Quanisha brought to Javon's Dream, we are sure that her book will be a best-seller.